Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Learn About A Hampton Virginia Locally Grown Knit Shop

Our featured Etsy artist for this week is Milly from Stitch and Stories which is based in the Hampton Virginia area. We asked her a few questions to get to know her better. Milly shares her passion for knitting and fiber arts, supporting local businesses, and saying no to urban sprawl! Yeah Milly! By the way, thanks for being an awesome interviewee!

Please tell us a little something about yourself...
I was born and raised in Hampton, Virginia. I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Government from Christopher Newport University, and a Masters of Public Administration from Old Dominion University; both schools are near by. I did live in Northern Virginia for a number of years but returned to Hampton about 15 years ago. I do miss Northern Virginia though.

Please tell us about your art, craft, business...
I taught myself how to knit about four years ago. I had learned to cross stitch as a child, but wanted to be able to make things for people they could wear or use. So, I bought a book, some yarn and needles, and gave it a try. My first project was a scarf. I have since met some fabulous knitters and mentors and taken some awesome classes at my LYC (Knitting Sisters in Williamsburg) and with Annie Modesitt.

I taught myself to spin about a year later and again met some wonderful people through spin-ins and a local shop that is now sadly closed. I am also a beginning weaver.

Please tell us what item or items you love the most from your Etsy shop...
Well my shop is still a little new and I want to add more things. But, what I am most looking forward to having more of is - hand dyed and hand spun yarns. I love the roving I have right now. It is from a local knitter/spinner who raises Romney sheep, Alpaca and Angora goats! Wonderful stuff and the donors are so sweet. I have visited them a few times and they are just precious! The hand spun is from Southdown Baby Doll sheep raised in Staunton (Virginia). I believe in keeping things as local as possible.

Tell us something interesting about you which not a lot of people know about...
I'm a techno-junky. I love gadgets. I have a Nook e-book reader, love it! Oh and I ride a motorcycle.

Any craft techniques you would like to share? Gauge is everything.

Any advice you would like to give about owning an online shop, or any kind of business? I'm still very new at owning an online shop, but the biggest lesson I have learned as a fiber artist and business person is don't sell yourself short!

Why do you think buying handmade or local or from home grown shops is good for your town or Virginia in general? I think buying local is extremely important for a number of reasons. One is it keeps money in the local community to your friends and neighbors, who are trying to make a living and not sending money overseas and costing local jobs in the process. I'm a believer in regionalism, growing food locally/regionally, shopping locally/regionally. I know it isn't always possible, but that is why I think it is so important to support local businesses, farmers and artisans whenever possible. They are too few these days.

Any funny personal stories you would like to share?
Too many really, I'm thinking of writing a funny book on all my fiber mis-adventures! LOL.

Do you have a 9 to 5 job or what Etsyers refer to as a "real day job"? What do you do? Do you love your it? Do you ever dream of quitting one day and doing your craft full time?
I do have a day job, I enjoy that work too but I do dream of owning a brick and mortar fiber shop one day. I am a county planner/development facilitator and that plays into my strong feelings of keeping things local, I support re-use and re-development rather than urban sprawl. I'd love to see an arts district created in the area where I work. I know other regional Virginia cities have done it.

Click here to see Milly's Etsy Shop
Stitches and Stories

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